This was a tasting hosted by John virtually and in person from Leith! I couldn’t attend at the time but have been allowed to taste them.
It’s been nearly a year since I stopped tasting the outturn every month but the relatively small number of casks I’ve tried in that time have been really good on the whole. And honestly it is quite nice to not be quite so obsessive about it.
13th September 2007, 2nd fill bourbon, 297 bottles. I had a couple of 135s in the London bar the other night with Mr. Storry and they were both great.
Nose - An immediately arresting nose, very confident. Waxy is the main thing - rich, plasticky wood with vanilla sponge, raspberry jam and party balloons. It must be the weird stills that makes this unmistakable and very drinkable character. Underneath the wood glue thing there's warm, cut peach and apricot sweets. More citrussy with water, and a little more anty.
Body - Sweet but balanced, Fizzers and a coke float. A sherbet dib-dab dibber. A little more herbal with water, rosemary and poached pear.
Finish - Turns into Refreshers (they are different from Fizzers, but subtly so) and buzzes round the lips and tongue with twisted orange peel, grapefruit peel and sherbet.
What a cracking whisky; confident, interesting, well balanced and a real pleasure to drink.
27th October 1995, 1st fill bourbon, 221 Bottles
Nose - Waxy but much more cautious than the 135, with boiled sweets, linseed oil, blue-ball-liquorice-allsorts and custard creams. I'm still getting those Fizzers on exhale but I think they're a remnant from the previous. Deeper and better with water, with candied orange peel and beedis.
Body - Strange… some of it's young, some of it's bitter and some of it's virgin oaky. It's a bruising delivery, palate stripping. Orange oils at first, then this oaky, liquorice fire comes down on you…
Finish - Long and bitter with burnt orange, rolling tobacco and chewed liquorice root. There's a deep sweetness underneath but it's crushed by this bitter wood oil, like a young, black, cask strength bourbon.
An interesting nose, but an extremely clumsy delivery full of chilli, bitter oak and numbing oils. I suspect this has been finished in something extremely active, and it hasn't worked. A shame because the nose is great.
29th June 2006, refill oloroso butt, 549 bottles
Nose - Just ever so gently dirty, a charred, nutty (waxy) but imprecise sherry nose. Hazelnuts, filter coffee and posh dark chocolate, and a very dark sweetness - prunes, fig rolls, treacle pudding. It really is a very compelling, exciting nose.
Body - Flaking, dark varnish, then chewy toffees, Christmas cake icing, burnt orange and acrylic paint. Brighter orange with water, cake with an apricot jam filling.
Finish - Medicinal, dirty again - bandages, hoisin sauce and Durian. Very long with more prunes (the packet has been open a while and they're drier) and sweet, cumin-y mukhwas.
This is all over the place, but fascinating for it. This is another palate crusher and would make a good end of evening dram at the bar, or as a bottle - something out of the ordinary if you are starting to build up a collection of so far "safe" society bottles.
6th May 2002, refill bourbon, 226 bottles
Nose - Blessed Campbeltown! Dry and dusty, yet intensely sweet with dusty Kipling slices and jelly lemon sweet slices. This is so ripe, balanced and well composed compared to the last two, it's night and day. Waxy, sweetshop, weird Campbeltown heaven.
Body - The same - dry and sweet, waxy and weird, dirty and fun - coffee chocolates and leatherette.
Finish - Long and very sweet, with milk chocolate icing, warm double cream and a little stilton at the end. Deep wood varnish with time though, it builds and builds.
Citrus, farmyard and a lingering sensation of blue cheese. Glen Scotia plays a dangerous game with its Campbeltown cards and sometimes wins - this is one of the winners. Yum.
26th November 1996, 2nd fill PX hogshead, 230 bottles. 19 years in refill bourbon before.
Nose - Felt lined box, old varnished wood, Refreshers again (old Islay being where I'd expect them) and royal icing. One of those posh nylon-looking tea bags ([googles] tea pigs apparently, and it's made out of biodegradable corn starch) and that wonderful smell of Summer-into-Autumn evening air. Pellet smokers, cut orange, carpet tiles.
Body - Sweet and medicinal, with star anise, soy sauce and new magazine.
Finish - Medium-long with dirty, medicinal peat. A longed-for cigarette on a cold, windy day. It's not quite TCP though, those days, apparently, are gone.
The nose is extremely special on this, the delivery is a little more tricky in terms of the prestige this whisky should have, however I'm more excited by this than the others.